07/11/2014 01:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Smiling Into Summer: Cultural and Charitable Catch-Up

Smiling Into Summer
Cultural & Charitable Catch-Up; July 2014

Text & Photographs © Jill Lynne 2014.

Jeff Koons, The Whitney Museum of Art Moves Downtown, "The Invention Of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd, "The Ocean At The End of The Lane" by Neil Gaiman, "Siddharth" by Richard Mehta, The Thorn Tree Benefit at Urban Zen, Harboring Hearts Summer Soiree at The Rubin Museum, PRIDE Weekend AIDS and HBO/Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart", A Ralph Lauren Summer...

Jeff Koons makes us smile!

"Art is a metaphysical activity!
I think of my Art every second of the day...", said he,

Koons playful, whimsical and sometimes ironic art evokes our inner child.
Think only of his signature Balloon Animals produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces and one is delighted.

Not to be dismissed as "light", his themes - such as "banality" - reflect deeper insights.

Despite the success - The Orange Balloon Dog sold at Christie's for a record-breaking $58.4 million dollars- Jeff Koons still seems sweet and unscathed... much as I remember him in the 80s, when we all were part of the burgeoning Soho Art Scene.

However despite success, this is Koons' first NYC retrospective.

The multiple openings at the Whitney Museum of American Art brought lines circling the block. From the standing-room-only press opening through VIP dinners, it became obvious that Koons, at age 59, has achieved "Art-Star/Rock-Star" status.

The mammoth Exhibition "Jeff Koons: A Retrospective" highlights 150 works of art from 1978 to the present.

The exhibition continues in NYC through October 19th and then travels to the Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris (November 26, 2014 - April 27, 2015) and to the Guggenheim Bilbao (June 5 - September 27, 2015).

A bit bittersweet, this is the final exhibition at the familiar uptown Whitney - located in the Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. It heralds its upcoming move down to the West Village/Meat Packing District (WV/MPD) - where the larger structure on Gansevoort Street - overlooks the Hudson River.

Designed by Renzo Piano, the Whitney is scheduled to open its doors in 2015, with an inaugural exhibition of American Art of the 20th and 21st century - completely curated from the Museum's own collection.

We welcome the Whitney - the first full-scale Art Museum - to our "hood", a "walk-able" from our residence and office - and a neighborhood of Artists, Art-Appreciators, Collectors and Galleries.


A Smiling Jeff Koons at the Opening of his Whitney Retrospective


Jeff Koons gives Senior Curator Scott Rothkopf a "Thumbs Up"


Jeff Koons patiently interacts with Art "fans"


Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988 (Porcelain)


In the Whitney Courtyard, Popeye (detail) 2009-2012 (Granite with live flowers)


String of Puppies 1988 (Polychromed wood)


Elephant 2003 (Mirror-polished steel with transparent color coating) against the backdrop of Lips 2000 (oil on canvass)


Hanging Heart 1994-2006 (Violet/Gold)


Plans for the New Downtown Whitney

Now for two wonder-full new Summer Reads...

First, the historically-based novel, "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd - the New York Times award-winning Author of "The Secret Life Of Bees".

Kidd is a master at developing full, complex, deeply human characters - noble and flawed -that caringly carry you through the tale.

Her brilliant reimagining of the details of nineteenth century life and the nuances of her character development, are compelling, and ultimately, unforgettable.

Set in a slave-holding Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, this important page-turner revolves around the true story of the Grimke Sisters - Sarah and Angelina. These women were not only the first female abolitionists but also among the first American feminist thinkers.

It is incredible that these significant Leaders had almost been lost to dusty archives.
Such is still - far too often - the way of women's "her-story"!



The Grimke Sisters - 19th century ground-breaking Feminists and Abolitionists

Secondly, "The Ocean At The End Of The Lane" by Neil Gaiman is an extraordinary, surreal adventure.

Gaiman's magnificent writing magically draws us in to a world of archetypes, the mystique of childhood where monsters loom large and angels beckon.
The book uproots us, transporting us to the foreboding and wondrous worlds of childhood, transforming out sense of reality.

NYT best selling Neil Gaiman is the author over over twenty books for adults and children. English-born he lives in the USA with his wife, the rock star Amanda Palmer.

Currently I'm reading Gaiman's Graphic Novel (The new trend in Fiction...) "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains" - collaboration with Illustrator Eddie Campbell.

As in "The Ocean..." there is a strange mix of myth and mundane reality - Intriguing!


SIDDHARTH, written and directed by Richard Mehta, reveals the story of an impoverished family in India. Hopeful for a better future the Father sends his 12 year old son away to work in a distant factory. After the child mysteriously disappears the film recounts the Father's heartbreaking journey to find his missing son.


Director Richard Mehta

Inspired by a real life encounter with a desperate man seeking his son on the streets of India, the film challenges us emotionally to take a deeper look at the appalling conditions in which the global poor still exist.

The name SIDDHARTH echoes back to "Siddhartha", another name for the Buddha, and is reminiscent of the profound journey of the lead character in Herman Hesse's iconic 1922 novel "Siddhartha" . Focusing on a spiritual journey the book was formative for me.

The film was screened at The Museum of Modern Art and showcased at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

International Eco-Designer Clogdah hosted Thorn Tree's Project's 11th Annual African Bazar and Silent Auction at Donna Karan's Urban Zen Center.

The proceeds benefit the impoverished Samburu tribe in Northern Kenya, providing educational opportunities for the children

The Thorn Tree Project is a 100% volunteer-run educational nonprofit organization supporting 1,500 students in 14 preschools and 3 primary schools, as well as an additional 150 scholarship students in high schools and universities across Kenya. Clodagh has served on the board of directors since the organization's inception in 2002.

The marvelous reality of this benefit is that for as little as $25. One can purchase a colorful accessory and help a child. A "must" for shopaholic-do-gooders!


Thorn Tree Project Student Sponsor Marjana Serdarevic-Pehar, wearing African Tribal Beads & Bracelets from the African Bazaar Benefit


Josephine Regina Lenore, the student supported by Marjana.
She had to convince her father to \be allowed to attend school, and later did the same for her siblings.
She hopes to become a journalist.

Harboring Hearts held its second Annual "Summer Soiree" at Chelsea's Rubin Museum of Art.

Harboring Hearts is a charity dedicated to providing affordable, short-term accommodations along with additional financial and emotional support for critically ill heart patients and their families during the critical time of treatment. Working closely with cardiology and transplant teams at top NY hospitals, Harboring Hearts provides targeted financial interventions that are tailored to meet specific housing and other urgent needs for those they serve.

Harboring Hearts co-founders Michelle Javian and Yuki Kotani welcomed over 300 supporters including Taye Diggs, Jean Shafiroff, Nicole DiCocco, Laura Lofaro Freeman, and Christian Siriano.

The special evening honored Evercore Founder and Executive Chairman Roger Altman, Columbia University Medical Center Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine Dr. Lee Goldman, Director of the Outpatient Pediatric Dysrhythmia Center at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore Dr. Christine Walsh and heart transplant recipient and motivational speaker Michael Kutcher for their great contributions.


Honoree Dr. Christine Walsh, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore


Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, Nicole DiCocco, R. Couri Hay, Nathalie Glaser
and Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin

Gay PRIDE Weekend brought huge crowds to the WV.

The recent outstanding HBO production of Larry Kramer's "Normal Heart" brought to mind not only how very much has been achieved but also served as a reminder of the painful fatal cost.

The Normal Heart is a 2014 with sixteen Emmy-nominations - including OutstandingTelevision Film - HBO's vital production, directed by Ryan Murphy and written by Larry Kramer - based on his own 1985. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello, and Julia Roberts, It will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 26, 2014

The film focuses on the rise of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City, 1981 - 1984, as seen through the eyes of writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group.


AIDS: Comfort During A Tragic Time, Joe Mantello with Jim Parsons © Jojo Whilden

This was an extremely difficult period for yours truly...
Losing many dear friends and brilliant associates to AIDS, besides supportive handholding, I dedicated myself to advocacy as well as fund-raising for AIDS care and research.

As I watched the throngs of young proud "healthy" members of the LGBT community converge from all corners of the globe, I wondered how cognizant they were of the price that had been paid.

Believing that a social justice victory for one is, in essence, a victory for all...
Wishing You Happy Summer Smiles!


Historical Poster on Christopher Street Window Commemorating the Long Struggle for Equal Rights


Ralph Lauren - The Master Designer of Americana - Celebrates Summer With A Children's Window

All Photographs (c) Jill Lynne 2014 available for Purchase